Honda hasn’t always replaced its bread-and-butter compact, the Civic, every five years. The Mk.1 Civic soldiered from 1972 until 1979. The second through fifth generations were replaced on a regular four-year schedule, before Honda settled into a five-year product cadence with the sixth generation (1996-2000). If it were to keep with that cadence, we’d be seeing a ninth-generation Civic sometime this year, replacing the Mk.VIII, which debuted in late 2005. According to Automotive News [sub], however, Honda is holding off on releasing a new Civic until 2011. What gives?
American Honda’s Executive VP John Mendel explains… sort of:
In general, we are not changing cycles. We change vehicles as need be. The ability to do something based on more current information is better than waiting a full model cycle. Some of that is being able to have the opportunity to change [based on] what you see happening in the marketplace.
But behind the confused corporate jibber-jabber lies a far more reassuring sign: according to Honda’s COO Tsuneo Tanai, the Mk.IX Civic was supposed to be larger than the current model, but was redesigned to be close to the current model’s size “mid-stream,” causing the delay. Breaking product cadence might seem a bit un-Honda, but its vehicles were also growing to distinctly un-Honda-like sizes as well. Sometimes you have to break one tradition to bring back another.